Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

YEARS OF WANDERINGS                        219

In kind remembrance of me.

Spare the gentle twigs of Snow Hall's willow.

And I pray my friends across the river

To come at times and sun my fishing raincoat."

A crowd gathered to see his departure. It was a motley company of
gentry and poor folks that sent him off. We know by name nineteen of
his neighbours and friends who were to go a certain distance with him
on the boat. The roads were lined with friends and strangers, farmers
and grateful poor parents with babies in their arms, babies whose lives
had been saved by the departing scholar. The nineteen went with him
as far as Tzehu Lake, where again they whiled away several days before
£u Tungpo finally left.

There still remained three friends who accompanied him as far as
Kiukiang. One was his closest friend Chen Tsao. Another was the
monk Tsanliao, younger by five years, who had known him at Suchow
and had popped up again to live with him at Huangchow for about
a year. Among the people of ancient China, there were no greater
travellers than Taoist and Buddhist monks, not only because they had
complete leisure and .freedom of movement, but also because they had
probably the best chain of hotels to put up in wherever they went,
namely, the temples. Tsanliao decided now to go and live on top of
*&e famous Lushan at Kiukiang.

x The third friend was the centenarian Taoist Chao Chi, who was now
, about one hundred and thirty years old, and who, according to legend,
was later resurrected from his grave. After reaching Kiukiang, Su
Tungpo went out of his way and made a land journey of over a hundred
miles in order to entrust this old priest to one of his friends at Shingkuo.
Chao Chi loved birds and animals and always travelled with one of his
pets with him. Later, according to Tseyu's story, the old man died
from a kick by a mule. Years after, a monk told Tseyu that he had
recently met another monk at a certain place who claimed to be Chao
Chi and to have known Su Tungpo at Huangchow. Tseyu asked about
this monk's appearance, and the story-teller's description fitted exactly
with that of the old Taoist. Among those who were listening to the
story was a son of the magistrate at Shingkuo. He went home and told
his father about it. In order to verify the story of Chao Chi's resurrec-
tion, the chief magistrate ordered his tomb reopened and found only a
cane and two shin-bones. The corpse had disappeared.

Su Tungpo visited the famous Lushan for a few days in the company
of Tsanliao. There was great excitement among the hundreds of monks,
for the news had spread among them: "Tungpo has arrived!'5 Although
he wrote only three verses on Lushan, one of them became the best-
loved poem describing the essence of this mountain.

H*